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A recent diary on some wacko representative who wants to privatize all k-12 education makes a good point, albeit unintentional, on the usual idiots who believe in the fictive "free-market" and its frictionless surface of opportunity and access, much like those who have advanced broadband are equal to those who can barely see QuickTime or Flash in DK.

In the case of higher education, the place where some of the student problems created in k-12 can be remediated or "fixed" especially with the breadth of programs available at public institutions, the real battle since the onset of Reaganism has been the declining support for public education in a variety of forms, whether infrastructure or programs. A recent special article feature at the Comical might be useful reading and watching for the layperson. The continuing problem partially addressed by the current administration is p-20 (pre-school to the end of undergraduate education), but the issue as always comes down to public financing. 'baggers who complain about so-called liberal propaganda in curricular content should pay more attention to the larger problems of how higher education's fetishizing of a business model actually made it less efficient during this period and that the recent federal announcement to crack down (again) on for-profit institutions is just the tip of the financing iceberg, and the screwing of education starts at the top as primary and secondary education becomes staffed with the graduates of a declining higher education system.

The American system of higher education is in crisis. Over the past 30 years, it has gone from facilitating upward mobility to exacerbating social inequality. College-going, once associated with opportunity, now engenders something that increasingly resembles a caste system: It takes Americans who grew up in different social strata and widens the divisions among them. The consequences are vast, including differences among graduates in employment rates and lifetime earnings, in health, and in civic engagement.
Interactive page to Explore how state and federal support has declined as a share of overall revenue—putting a greater burden on students—at more than 600 four-year public colleges and universities since 1987.
A special Chronicle report, "An Era of Neglect," examines the continuing erosion of support for public higher education in the United States. The report, published on Sunday, rejects the conventional notion that decisions about spending on higher education merely reflect the ups and downs of state-budget cycles. The report focuses instead on the small but consequential choices that a generation of lawmakers, lobbyists, and college officials have made—choices that have steadily shifted the burden of paying for a college degree from taxpayers to individual students.

Why have public colleges lost out in the fight for state dollars? What has led to the fraying of ties between higher education and both elected officials and the public? What are the consequences of that transformation?

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